June 25, 2011 by Leah
Apparently my family members are not the only book people I know – all my friends seem to be devotees of the written word, as well. You all left great comments, feedback, and ideas for solving the book dilemma I wrote about yesterday. Said dilemma pretty much boiled down to: I need a way to maximize my consumption of written and audiobooks for the least amount of money and bandwidth.
Since that post, my friend Allison’s awesome mom went through her audiobook collection and is sending me four books on CD: three I haven’t read, including Orson Welles reading Les Miserables, and one classic – A Tale of Two Cities – I’m excited to revisit.
Aaron and I also discovered there actually is a really cool used bookstore just up the road. It’s called Once Read Books. I bought seven paperbacks for $12 (no romances, sadly), found a Carl Hiassen audiobook for $3.95, and, my favorite, three of James Herriot’s books (All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, and All Things Bright and Beautiful) on CD for $30. The delightful memoirs of a country vet in Yorkshire three generations ago sound like better vacation listening than a mediocre-at-best magical romance series. Also, they might be the kind of thing our as-yet-unconceived children will like to listen to a few years down the road. (Don’t worry, their father will make sure they are introduced to rap and heavy metal as well.)
While importing all my new spoils from the bookstore trip into iTunes, I also started looking into audible.com. It’s an audiobook subscription service that’s running a special right now where you can get the first three months membership for $8 per month, after which the rate goes back up to $15 per month. There are no contracts or anything – it seems kind of like Netflix, but for audiobooks. I’m really liking this idea, but I think I will wait to try it until we move and can get cable internet again, instead of being limited to 5G per month by our wireless modem.
I’m also intrigued by the idea of podcasts, which are apparently available on audible.com as well as for download on iTunes and in other random internet places. I’ve never really gotten into the podcast thing, and I have no idea why. Possibly because there is just so much out there. My current limitation is bandwidth, but if that wasn’t a problem, I would be stocking up on free podcasts of American Public Media shows like The Splendid Table and A Prairie Home Companion. I might even be shelling out the $1.99 per episode of This American Life. Maybe an afternoon at Starbucks (free wifi) is in order soon.
I am now also seriously thinking about a Kindle (my friends with e-readers seem to like that device best out of its competitors). It looks like the newer ones have 3G wireless or connect to wifi hotspots, so I could download books without impacting our limited bandwidth. I love the idea of subscribing to magazines on the Kindle – I have far too many back issues of The New Yorker sitting around our house. I don’t love the idea of me spending lots of money in order to be able to buy books at the touch of a button, though. Instant gratification can be expensive. But perhaps a Kindle would help save trees. But I’m already constantly exposed to electromagnetic fields, do I really need to add one more? Hmm.
Finally, in general book news, I ran across this article in The Guardian about the advent of a new format of printed book, called the flipbook. I can’t tell if it looks cool or gimmicky. I definitely like the idea of not having to flap my elbows into my neighbors’ midsections every time I need to turn a page, but I’m not sure how easy it would be to adjust after a lifetime of reading, well, normal books. Perhaps I’ll get the chance to take one for a test drive one of these days.